Monetary Responsibility in Sports Installations

6th March 2020
When there's an accident in sports installations, it's necessary to identify who the monetary responsibility lies with. In practice, it tends to generate controversies.

The monetary responsibility in sports installations is a topic that tends to generate plenty of controversies. In practice, it should be very clear who is responsible if there’s an injury or accident inside. This is true whether it’s public, private, or another kind.

Even though each case is different, the county or city is responsible when an accident happens as a result of a lack of maintenance or structural defects.

On the other hand, this isn’t the case if the accident is caused by a mistake made by the injured person. In that case, it’s their responsibility.

When does the city or county bare monetary responsibility?

Counties and cities, as well as local sports clubs, should promote physical activity everywhere. Because of this, it’s necessary that all of the public sports installations are optimally functioning. Since they’re often used by nearby schools, they must be safe.

These types of installations must meet all of the requirements to ensure that everyone who goes there is safe. If they don’t, then the county or city must respond to any problems.

Generally, when someone has an accident or becomes injured, the parents or the person involved begin a claims process to determine monetary responsibility. However, these claims don’t always work, and they depend on the specific situation of each case.

An injured man being helped by two other people.

One example of this is, for example, is if a person falls down bleacher stairs. Perhaps they weren’t at the regulation incline and height. Let’s suppose, too, that the stairs didn’t have handrails. In that case, the monetary responsibility most likely falls on the county or city.

On the other hand, let’s say a person – a parent, for example – gets hit by a ball by one of the players. Even if it injures their face, it would be hard to argue that it was anyone’s fault. The reason? Sports installations aren’t responsible for accidents of that nature. It’s the responsibility of the individual to be paying attention to what’s going on.

Monetary responsibility when children are involved

If an accident or injury is the administration’s fault, then it’s fundamental to demonstrate a connection between the injury and the damage. In these cases, professionals take into consideration the age of the injured. This is especially important, as it’s not the same for a child as an adult to be injured.

Regarding the above point: it’s not rare for the administration to assume total responsibility when accidents involve children. This is true even when the installations meet all the necessary safety requirements to ensure the security of its participants.

Take the case of a boy who fell in one of the installation’s halls, for example. The hall was well-lit, wide, and had no imperfections. However, they know that children tend to run and be more energetic, causing them to fall more.

In this case, the administration wasn’t directly responsible. However, it assumed the cost because it was a small child who didn’t have a clear sense of responsibility.

Public or private responsibility?

The administration of sports installations is obligated to avoid all types of situations or circumstances that could present danger to anyone. The maintenance of sports areas such as fields, tracks, courts, etc., is absolutely fundamental.

Two children playing street hockey.

In some other cases, the administration should assume responsibility. However, when it involves adults, the solutions usually aren’t as favorable.

The line between responsibility of the administration and adult persons is very thin. Each case and circumstance is different, making it hard to establish when the responsibility belongs to one or the other. What is clear is that the administration must provide safe installations to avoid risks.

People are responsible for their own behavior, of course. If the accident has nothing to do with the installations, then they must assume responsibility for themselves. There are exceptions to this rule, in the case of minors, for example, in which administrations tend to be much more flexible.

  • Ayuntamiento de Valencia. Manual de mantenimiento de instalaciones deportivas. 2011. Extraído de: https://www.diba.cat/documents/41289/6629960/Manual+mantenimiento+2011.pdf/45d49263-3eef-4d1d-9611-629a16d8f173
  • Ayuntamiento de Madrid. 2012. Reglamento sobre la Utilización de las Instalaciones y Servicios Deportivos Municipales. Extraído de: https://sede.madrid.es/UnidadesDescentralizadas/Deportes/Tramites/ficheros/Reglamento%20Utilizaci%C3%B3n%20Instalaciones%20y%20Servicios%20Deportivos%20Municipales.pdf